3 Blogging Tips to Help You Build Your Platform as a Self-Help Author

dreamstime_m_28913973I work with professionals who are writing self-help books. These are men and women who are at the height of their careers and are ready to share their knowledge—some as a way to further their careers, some to share insights gained through years of experience, some as a way to give back in their respective fields. I tell them all the same thing:

As an author, you are responsible for finding and building your readership. You must build your author platform.

I am an editor, not a social media or marketing specialist … but I spend several hours every day reading blogs and articles by specialists in those areas so I can keep my finger on the pulse of traditional and self-publishing trends and best practices. Not only is this daily self-education important for my editing work, but offering insight into these “foreign territories” has become increasingly important to the authors I work with. Many hire me specifically because I have experience in both the traditional and self-publishing worlds.

But simply writing a book—no matter how good it is—doesn’t guarantee readers will buy it, as many first-time self-publishing authors discover.

This idea comes as a shock to many professionals who are dipping their toes into publishing waters for the first time. But many authors who buy into the concept that platform–building for their writing career is every bit as important as it is for their profession often become overwhelmed quickly by all the options for doing that. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn … the list of social media sites seems unmanageable if you’ve never tackled any of them.

I know I don’t have time to manage 16 different social media accounts while writing, editing, and marketing my business, so I understand how overwhelming platform-building activities feel. When I discuss platform-building with the authors I work with, I suggest focusing on actually writing … and one of the best ways to do that is through blogging.

If Your First Thought Is I don’t know what to write about, Keep Reading

Blogging is not only a terrific way to share your thoughts with the world, but it’s also a great way to test ideas and polish your writing skills. You’re an expert in your field, and you know there’s a market for the type of book you’re writing, but if coming up with ideas for regular blog posts makes you break out in a cold sweat, consider these three tried-and-true ideas:

  • Engage your fans by asking for their help. Posing a question like, “Would you rather read a chapter in my new book about 50 uses for parsley or one about the best uses for 50 different herbs?” will often lead to more engagement in the form of comments and debates from your followers, and your fans will feel as though they were part of the process of writing your book. Engagement is the name of the game in book publishing.
  • Offer content that’s related to your book-in-progress. You are an expert in your field, so share a bit of that knowledge by basing blog posts on concepts from your book. This is also a great way to repurpose some of the deleted text after a revision. Or you can use a fleshed-out chapter to reverse engineer a blog post.
  • Tell a story. Blogs are a perfect venue for storytelling. Remember Maya Angelou’s quote that “People will forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” You’re a writer—you’re a storyteller! Write a blog—or two or ten—about yourself and your writing, and let your fans and followers get to know the real you. What’s the story behind your book? What are some of the crazy things your friends and family have said when you’ve told them you’re writing it? What is your writing process? Where do you do most of your writing, and how do you carve out time to do it?

Whether you’ve already published a book or are thinking about writing one, whether you’ve chosen to follow a traditional publishing path or opt to self-publish, the sooner you begin building your author platform, the better. Blogging allows you to build a community of interested readers, and because your book is also for those readers, you’ll have a built-in audience once you publish. The time to start building your author platform is now.

What about you, scriveners? What do you like to read in blogs? What’s the most creative blog post you’ve read by a self-help author? Please join in the discussion!

 

Candace Johnson 11 400dpi

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

From Humble Beginnings to Achieving the American Dream

MaureenFCSeveral months ago I held a drawing for free editing—one winner came from this blog and another from my Facebook page. The Facebook winner, Maureen Francisco, was a previous client of mine: I had the privilege of proofreading her debut self-help book, It Takes Moxie: Off the Boat, or Out of School, to Making It Your Way in America. Maureen wanted to submit a couple of articles related to her for publication, so she used her prize to have me edit them for her. (Stay tuned—one of them was picked up by a major source and will appear later this week!)

It Takes Moxie offers the tools, strategies, and principles Maureen used to achieve her own success (see details below) as well as the stories of immigrants who achieved the American Dream in a big way, including Dr. Connie Mariano,the White House doctor; Richard Cho, the first Asian-American GM of a major sports franchise; Amy Chua, author of the New York Times bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom; Teddy Zee, executive producer of The Pursuit of Happyness and Life or Something Like It, and many more.

Check out It Takes Moxie (and all the five-star reviews) on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Update May 2013: It Takes Moxie has been selected as a winner in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category of the 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards. Congratulation to Maureen!
Continue reading “From Humble Beginnings to Achieving the American Dream”

The Song in You by LaDonna Gatlin (book and songs!)

As the editor of The Song in You, I had the privilege of working closely with LaDonna Gatlin, and what a terrific story she has to tell! Before Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers became one of the biggest hits in country music, they toured with their sister LaDonna as The Gatlin Quartet, and in this optimistic message of hope and healing, LaDonna Gatlin shares the choice she made to embark on a different “tour”: raising her children, putting family first, overcoming adversity, and ultimately helping to inspire countless others discover their own song.

You don’t want to miss this fantastic memoir! (And here are several audio clips to get you in the mood while you read: http://ladonnagatlin.com/index.php/clip/audio-clips/)

You can read it all in The Song in You: Finding Your Voice, Redefining Your Life. Today LaDonna is a Certified Speaking Professional and a member of the National Speakers Hall of Fame, part an elite group of CPAE recipients such as Ken Blanchard, Ronald Reagan, Norman Vincent Peale, and Zig Ziglar.

But in this inspirational memoir, you’ll learn all about the sometime-difficult journey LaDonna has had on the way, and why she’s such a popular speaker (and now, author!).

This book has it all—including a foreword by big brother Larry Gatlin! LaDonna shares her personal story in a very transparent and often hilarious way and crafts an incredibly uplifting message. She takes readers down an inspirational path to uncovering their own potential, purpose, and passion.

Using the seven notes of the musical scale—do (do the right thing), re (realize your potential), mi (mind your manners), fa (failures can become fertilizer), sol (solutions begin with me), la (laugh), ti (time is valuable) . . . and right back to do—Gatlin uses her own story, including her dramatic personal struggles, to craft a spiritually uplifting message.

The Song in You
 contains practical, emotional, and spiritual insights gleaned from LaDonna’s experiences as part of a famous musical family, and also as a woman whose Christian faith caused her to walk away from untold riches and fame to travel the world. With a finely tuned voice, sharp wit, and engaging communication style crafted over a lifetime of performing, LaDonna ignites readers to boldly discover their passion, connect with their voice, and embrace a life of purpose and meaning.

Happy Reading!

—Candace

Update July 2013: LaDonna discusses sharing your own story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YXszdLG7p4&feature=player_detailpage …

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be.

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

And if you want more great writing and publishing information, check out my Facebook page at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services, where I share all kinds of interesting articles and links.

The Song in You by LaDonna Gatlin

As the editor of The Song in You, I had the privilege of working closely with LaDonna Gatlin, and what a terrific story she has to tell! Before Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers became one of the biggest hits in country music, they toured with their sister LaDonna as The Gatlin Quartet, and in this optimistic message of hope and healing, LaDonna Gatlin shares the choice she made to embark on a different “tour”: raising her children, putting family first, overcoming adversity, and ultimately helping to inspire countless others discover their own song.

You can read it all in The Song in You: Finding Your Voice, Redefining Your Life. Today LaDonna is a Certified Speaking Professional and a member of the National Speakers Hall of Fame, part an elite group of CPAE recipients such as Ken Blanchard, Ronald Reagan, Norman Vincent Peale, and Zig Ziglar.

But in this inspirational memoir, you’ll learn all about the sometime-difficult journey LaDonna has had on the way, and why she’s such a popular speaker (and now, author!).

This book has it all—including a foreword by big brother Larry Gatlin! LaDonna shares her personal story in a very transparent and often hilarious way and crafts an incredibly uplifting message. She takes readers down an inspirational path to uncovering their own potential, purpose, and passion.

Using the seven notes of the musical scale—do (do the right thing), re (realize your potential), mi (mind your manners), fa (failures can become fertilizer), sol (solutions begin with me), la (laugh), ti (time is valuable) . . . and right back to do—Gatlin uses her own story, including her dramatic personal struggles, to craft a spiritually uplifting message.

The Song in You
 contains practical, emotional, and spiritual insights gleaned from LaDonna’s experiences as part of a famous musical family, and also as a woman whose Christian faith caused her to walk away from untold riches and fame to travel the world. With a finely tuned voice, sharp wit, and engaging communication style crafted over a lifetime of performing, LaDonna ignites readers to boldly discover their passion, connect with their voice, and embrace a life of purpose and meaning.

You don’t want to miss this one! Stop by your favorite bookstore on your way to the polls on Tuesday—the line won’t seem nearly as bad when you have a great book to read!

—Candace